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The Black Box covers the most well known era of Black Sabbath, 1970 to 1978, the Ozzy Osbourne years. It comes in a beautiful box, with Digipak-style CD holders, each album having its own respective case, along with two smaller containers, four albums to a container. The book has a really nice suede-like cover, and the information inside is nothing new, but interesting none the less. And last but not least is the DVD, which is a nice bonus but wouldn’t be missed if it were to be included.
I will Review each part (the albums, book, and DVD) in more depth.
The Albums – I won’t bore you with “OMG PARANOID IS AN AMAZING ALBUM!!” If you want to get a review of each individual album go check out their own release review section. That said, the sound on these cds is amazing! One of the best re-mastering jobs I have ever heard. The riffs sound more menacing with an added crunch, the vocals soar higher than ever, the bass sound deeper and darker than ever before, and the drums are like thunder! The cds are clearly aimed to evoke emotions of the original vinyl’s with the ‘side 1/side 2’ track listing style, also the Digipak style cases feel like vinyl holders too.
The Book – The book is a really nice add-on, if you are looking for just the music this wont interest you. Most of the information is nothing at all new. One of my favorite parts were they have quotes from the likes of Kirk Hammett and Rob Halford, talking about how Sabbath influenced them. Also included are the lyrics to each track along with some album notes for each one.
The DVD – The DVD could have been better (i.e. including more performances, maybe some early interviews). The performances most people have probably seen before and the cover of “Blue Suede Shoes” (which is will have you laughing). If they had added more material to the DVD it would be much better and less of a “nice little bonus”.
Overall this is the way to go if you want to get into Black Sabbath. Even if you have 1 or 2 of their albums get this. The DVD and book just make this so nice and the route to go for any fan.
Black Box (The Complete Original Black Sabbath 1970-1978) is a box set, containing the 8 CD's sabbath put out in the 70's (Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master of Reality, Vol. 4, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Sabotage, Technical Ecstacy, Never Say Die!), as well as a book and a DVD.
I'll break the review into 3 pieces, and weigh them accordingly.
Part 1: The CD's.
I'm not going to rate the music on the CD's, since they already have their own sections full of reviews on the songs themselves. So what makes these particular CD's better than any other release? SOUND QUALITY! There are no beeps, blank spots or anything of the sort on here (things that have plagued all the previous editions of these albums), they are perfect. The original source tapes were digitally remastered under supervision from the band, and it certainly paid off. Ozzy's vocals soar to new heights on "Hole In The Sky", Tony's monster of a riff on "Children Of The Grave" has never sounded heavier, Geezer's bass thunders on "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" better than ever, and Bill's drumming on "Symptom Of The Universe" is so fierce, it scares me. The packaging on the CD's is also very well done. They're the original covers (so they say "side 1, side 2" on track listing, which is kinda weird for a CD). They also kept the individual fonts for each album, a nice little touch. On a more amusing note, I seemed to have aquired a copy of Sabbath "Bloddy" Sabbath instead of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.
The CD's get full marks, so 8 CD's @ 10/10 each is 80.
Part 2: The Book.
The Book contains two essays tracking Sabbath's first decade of existencer. The first is called "Lords Of This World" and details Sabbath 1970-1973. The second is called "A Hard Road", and follows up with 1974-1978. Not to many new things to be learned, but it deserves a read nonetheless. The next part is a time line, which is insteresting, but I don't like the layout, they should have had it in point form instead of paragraph form. Last comes the complete lyrics for all 8 albums. Scattered throught are pictures of the band, and quotes from various artists (Rob Halford, Kirk Hammet, Vince Neil among them) extolling the greatness of the mighty Black Sabbath. Overall, the book is pretty decent, though it would have been nice to have more pics of Geezer and Bill, Ozzy and Tony completely steal the show. I also didn't like how they basically gloss over nearly two decades of Sabbath history (1980-1997) in the timeline. I understand this is supposed to be about "the original lineup", but why they do they mention Ozzy's, Geezer's and Bill's solo works, but not what Tony was doing at the time ( i.e. keeping Sabbath alive).
Still, the book is pretty good, so I give it 7/10.
Part 3: The DVD
Given the comprehensiveness of everything else, the CD was quite a let down. It contains 3 music videos (for Black Sabbath, Iron Man and Paranoid), and a live cover of Elvis Presley's "Blue Suede Shoes" (which is actually quite amusing). You've probably seen the music videos before, they're the ones with the band playing and all this other crap pasted onto the background.
It seems as if the band didn't really give a shit about the DVD. It would have been nice to have a concert on it (say, the Paris 1970 bootleg, or that show from 1978's Never Say Die tour). Also, interviews with the band members, some mini-documentary on the band and their influence, or something else, would have been good to have on here.
The DVD gets 3/10, and 2 of those points are there simply because I laughed my ass off at Blue Suede Shoes.
This gives an overall total of 80 + 7 + 3 = 90.
If you dont own any Ozzy era Sabbath (or even if you own 1 or 2 CD's), this is the edition you want to buy, it is superior to every other release of these albums.
I've also heard Tony is working with Dio on a Dio-era box set, here's hoping it will come along soon!!
I do not understand this release at all. It just doesn't make any sense to release songs that have already been heard by everyone that is interested in heavy metal in general. I can't believe that 34 years later they are still trying to make money off of the same few songs. I would have been pleased to hear this single if there was something different like an old demo's from way back in the 70's but this single just doesn't cut it. No one can deny that "Paranoid" and "Iron Man" are classic songs but this single is nothing that any you would want to buy by itself. Another thing is that this single comes with the "black Box" release which has the whole "Paranoid" cd on it so I just can't see the point of this release.
After 20 best of collections gone wrong, somebody finally got it right! Put the two best Black Sabbath tracks from their sophomore album on a CD and sell it for $3. Actually, I normally hate compilation albums, but I was quite pleased with this CD. Part of it was for the CD case itself. It looked just like the outside of the black box with that awesome little winged Lucifer demon in a grey color with the black background. But there was a semi-circle carved into the side of the cardboard shell, and there was a black tab that invited me to pull it open. And out slid a black plastic tray that held a CD that was decorated in the same fashion as the coverart.
But on a serious note, it's nice to hear a decent remastering of two classic Black Sabbath songs: Iron Man and Paranoid (in reverse order).
First off, you get Paranoid. This song was originally written as filler for their sophomore album, and you can hear everything so clearly. From that awesome beginning hammer-on power chord to the distorted sounding fuzz-box that runs along with Tony's amazingly memorable and perfectly fitting bluesy solo. In fact, I think I've read somewhere that this is one of the few solos that Tony doesn't change live (at least he does it rarely, since I saw him change the last half of it for The Queen's Jubilee in 2002) because of how memorable it is. I also like how you can actually hear the variation in the middle part of the main riff where the bass plays this four note climb when the guitar just shifts down the power chord.
Then secondly, and not to mention lastly, you get Iron Man. I love how clean sounding it is. The bass drum seems even louder in the mix, and the intro behind the nut bend that is like a monster roaring just wails. Same goes for the metallic sounding "I AM IRON MAN!" It definitely raises some highly emotional childhood memories for me, being my first heavy metal song I ever heard and all. The solos, Ozzy's singing, even Geezer's bass... It's all so clear and audible! Then kicks in the faster tempo part, and everything is still so clear. Whomever did the remastering deserves many a commendation for their skill.
That aside, I'd like to point out that basically, this single is good for three types of people:
1. People who think that Black Sabbath only has two songs, and these songs are both it... And you don't want them to think otherwise for the sake of humanity.
2. People who have never heard Black Sabbath before, but want to know what they are going to be getting into for little money at all.
3. The hardcore Black Sabbath collectors (like yours truly) who have to have every album (okay, but we don't care about the compilation albums... since they already released the decently inclusive first five album compilation called WSOSFRAR [We Sold Our Souls For Rock And Roll] in the 70s).
So if you're in one of those three groups, then yeah go ahead and get it. But really, if you don't already own Paranoid (the album)... Then go out and get it. It's THE essential Black Sabbath (and for that matter, heavy metal) album. But they at least captured to two most well known songs and did a very nice job of remastering them for our listening pleasure. And for that, I commend them.